…the criminal justice system should reflect the enhancement that a life could be lost, a child could die, because of that weapon as opposed to if that weapon was not in the equation — Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller
Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
Strengthening penalties for gun crimes. Penalizing those who fail to secure firearms. Offering incentives for officers to remain in law enforcement. Increasing funding for drug education. Giving prosecutors new tools to charge armed shoplifters.
These are some of the issues legislators plan to tackle during the upcoming legislative session as part of the second round of the Metro Crime Initiative. The initiative was launched by Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller in the summer of 2021 and initially convened leaders from around the criminal justice system to discuss how to improve it.
“The difference between a violent crime and a deadly crime and a loss of life is typically the involvement of a firearm,” Keller said at a news conference Wednesday morning. “And because of that the criminal justice system should reflect the enhancement that a life could be lost, a child could die, because of that weapon as opposed to if that weapon was not in the equation.”
The news conference was attended by three Democratic lawmakers from Albuquerque as well as the mother and grandmother of Bennie Hargrove.
Hargrove was a 13-year-old who was killed at Washington Middle School last year, allegedly by a fellow student who took his father’s gun. His mother, Collette Wise, spoke in support of a bill that would charge people who allow guns to get in the hands of children.
This year’s priorities were drawn from discussions within the Albuquerque Police Department, said a department spokesman.
“No one actually felt the need to, like, sit down and listen to each other talk because they’re like, ‘we need action,’” Keller said. “We need to actually drive these initiatives. We know exactly what we need to do, more or less, going forward.”
Absent from the discussion was any talk of changes to pretrial detention.
That issue was highlighted in the last Metro Crime Initiative and was a rallying cry among leaders from both sides of the aisle prior to last year’s legislative session. However, it failed to pass when legislators questioned its constitutionality and whether it would actually reduce crime.